You know what I don’t miss writing about? Baby sleep. Baby sleep consumed this blog and my life for quite a while. Nine months to be exact. Nine sleepless, nightmarish months that even today make me shudder and whip out the condoms. Sleeplessness for nine months is the best birth control.
Thanks to the assistance of a sleep coach and the investment of about $300, Sabine is now an excellent nighttime sleeper. Naps are still a shit-show but I pick-and-choose my battles. At night she goes down easily by 7:30 p.m. and sleeps until 6:30 or 7 a.m. PRAISE GOD!
Several weeks ago I was getting ready while she
rotted her brain watched some Curious George. Sabine loves Curious George and will cheer and laugh along with him for the entire 30 minute show giving me time to shower and pull myself together. This particular day I did not hear much laughing. Instead I heard terrified gasps, “OH NO!” and then the sound of tiny frantic feet running to the bathroom to “tell Mama.”
I wandered in my towel and sat for a few minutes to see what the fuss was about and you know what I found? Curious George wide awake, not sleeping and being afraid of the dark.
Excuse me, Curious George producers, what that fuck were you thinking? Yes, some kids have problems with the dark and their parents can buy a book or a nightlight to help them deal with it. Meanwhile many other kids are blissfully ignorant of the dangers that come with dark and their parents, who are enjoying sleep, want to keep it that way.
This one seemingly harmless episode of Curious George has sent our sleep flying out of control. Sabine started waking earlier and earlier crying for a Mama and a flashlight. Then she started waking at night and crying for 3 minutes before passing back out – just enough time for me to be wide awake and wondering if she was now sleeping in a pile of vomited noodles (something that has happened multiple times and is so not fun to blindly shove your hands into when your child finally wakes for the day at 6:30).
I weighed my options. Giving her a flashlight did not seem like a great idea. I did not want her falling asleep with the flashlight on just to have it shift and wake her up at 1 a.m. I knew I did not want any of the newborn things that light up and make noise that THE BIG BABY STORES market to new moms desperate for a three-hour sleep stretch. Instead I went for a small kitty nightlight that was at Target for under $20.
I brought it home and Sabine selected the perfect shelf for “Kitty Flashlight” to sleep. I explained that kitty was her very special flashlight that will keep her safe at night. Then I put her to bed and she slept until 6:45 a.m. SUCCESS! JOY! I AM THE BEST MAMA EVER!
It is important to note that during all of this the Professor has been working insane hours trying to complete all his existing duties and prepare materials for the job hunt. I rarely see him and when I do, I try to keep the conversation positive and light as to not further stress him. I mentioned the nightlight and that I hoped it would help her sleep later but I did not elaborate further, as why stress him out?
Last weekend Sabine and Dada had a father/daughter adventure to Harbor Freight (I just found a typo of Harbor Fright, which is really much more accurate a description in my mind!) While they were out he sent a photo of Sabine with a little red flashlight and I said, “How sweet! Baby’s first tool!” The hell this tiny flashlight would inflict on our household totally failed to register.
That night Sabine had her bath, we read some books, had warm milk and then I laid her down to sleep. Normally she rolls to her tummy, smiles at me while I hand her two stuffed animals and then passes out. Not tonight, though. Nope, instead she sat bolt upright and started yelling for her flashlight. Yelling turned to frantic sobbing. Frantic sobbing turned to near vomiting.
KEEP THOSE NOODLES IN THE BELLY, SABINE!
Out I went to fetch the flashlight and I, in my infinite awesomeness, took out the batteries and handed it over.
“Here you go, flashlight to keep you safe,” I said. She clicked the button twice, looked at me, and started to hyperventilate all over again.
“Broken! Flashlight! Batteries! FLASHLIGHT!”
She was totally inconsolable. After a few minutes I said night night and closed the door and frantically began Googling how to handle this situation. Meanwhile Dada was feeling like complete shit – his flashlight treat was causing major stress!
“I didn’t know this would be such an issue,” he lamented. “It’s just a flashlight! I feel like shit!”
I explained the Curious George episode and the error in our ways and his face fell even further. Determined to right his wrong he went into her room, took away the flashlight and read more books hoping she would forget. She did not. Sabine had to cry herself to sleep for the first time since she was 9 months old. It was devastating to all, including the cats who honestly just wanted their cat food and a peaceful nap.
The next day we went to the Big Overpriced Toy Store and picked out a Glo Worm. I remember kids having these when I was a kid. Modern Glo Worms are inconceivably creepier looking than the ones we had, something I didn’t really think was possible. This big head, with creepy big eyes is attached to a tiny limbless body. It looks more like something from a sideshow than a tool to soothe the terrified toddler. But whatever, Sabine picked it out and rocked and cooed over it for the next few hours.
That night she snuggled into her bed with “Flashlight Worm” (because it is really all in how you brand this stuff) and went to sleep. I wish I could say this was the end of our early mornings, but it isn’t. Yesterday she slept till 7:30, then today she was up at 5:30 again. All because of one seemingly innocent episode of Curious George, which I guess leads me to the moral of this ramble – TV might actually be evil, Curious George is not all fun cuddly monkey and Dada’s should never be allowed to take toddlers to the tool store unsupervised.
Who else has a kid who is afraid of the dark? Any good book recommendations to help teach them that dark is not scary? Any other thoughts? I’m open to suggestions!